DDA gets first look at parking study data

Thursday, May 11, 2023–12:55 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

The Rome Downtown Development Authority got their first look at the final data from the two-month parking study on Thursday and there was at least one big surprise.

The study was conducted in response to some downtown tenants who claimed that the three-hour parking limit was hurting their business. That’s why the information being gathered is focused on how suspending the time limit is impacting consumer behavior.

During the months of March and April, when the time limit was suspended, there were a total of 2,476 citations issued and voided.  1,338 of those were unknown, which means they were probably customers or others who do not have a parking permit. 543 were downtown employees. 356 were business owners. 146 were residents. 21 were city employees, and 70 were county employees.

Oddly enough, the data showed that having no time limit really didn’t impact the length of time people were staying downtown.

In February, before the study began, the average length of stay was 145 minutes. It remained at 145 minutes in March and actually decreased to 141 minutes in April.

Aundi Lesley

“Probably the most surprising thing for me was that when people were given the opportunity to stay longer, they did not,” she said. “It seemed like customer spending was there, but we got mixed reviews. It’s a lot to consider.”

Based on feedback from merchants, 27.9% saw an increase in business, while 37.2% said there was no change. 34.9% said they saw a decrease in business. In addition, 22.9% reported positive customer feedback, 40% had no feedback and 37% had negative customer feedback.

Don’t expect any major changes to downtown parking anytime soon.

 “We certainly don’t want to rush into any changes,” Lesley said. “We are really going to take time to go over the data and also think about what’s coming downtown in the very future before we decide to make any changes. First and foremost, the biggest thing that comes to mind is the development that is happening in the River District. So, we certainly don’t want to make any short-term decisions that are going to impact any long-term changes.”

DDA Board Chair Harry Brock agreed, saying that they should let the River District happen and then re-evaluate.

In addition, DDA is under contract for its current parking system until February of next year.

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